I really enjoyed this book, but I can’t put my finger on why. It’s very depressing and the first section concerns itself with a young man determined to abandon himself to fate and not search for a job. He ends up starving, living in Central Park. So why was I hooked?
It must be the storytelling. Auster takes us through so many wild stories. The young man, Fogg/Philias/MS, moves in with an old man as a live-in companion/assistant, and the old man’s stories take us out West to the Grand Canyon. These tall tales of lead us into a hard tale of survival in the face of extreme circumstances. Later we hear a similar story written by a teenage boy involving aliens…
I couldn’t help but enjoy myself – it’s just ridiculous, funny and incredibly engaging despite the bizarre coincidences. (Include in all of those the far too gorgeous girlfriend of the young man who apparently falls for him after one meeting.) The picture of an apartment furnished with boxes of books, gradually being depleted by the man’s need for money for food. We’ve all done that, made furniture out of random objects in the face of necessity, but I’m pretty sure my furniture didn’t then disperse as I ate my way through an inheritance!
The plot gets crazier and more twisted up in itself as Fogg heads out West to follow those original footsteps. It almost felt like something out of that great gem of black humour, Six Feet Under. And yes he does also walk off into the sunset in a depressing ending. I was left feeling surprisingly upbeat though…Auster just doesn’t take it seriously at all – it’s like one big joke!